Italy’s Forced Evictions of Roma Undermine National Policy Commitments

Budapest, Milan, Rome, 31 July 2012: A coalition of NGOs is highlighting the worrying discrepancy between Government policy and practice on Roma in Italy. The NGOs are calling for the Italian government to ensure that local authorities are acting in line with the National Strategy on Roma Inclusion.

The Italian government submitted a strategy on National Roma Inclusion to the European Commission in February. The Italian Strategy emphasised the need to overcome emergency responses to the situation of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti (RSC) in a coordinated manner. Local and national authorities are failing to match up to this commitment, especially in Rome and Milan.

Rome has not made any new plans on RSC inclusion. Instead, it seems to be going ahead with measures adopted under the so-called "Nomad Plan”, which as part of the Nomad Emergency was declared illegal by the Council of State in November 2011. On 18 June 2012 a new segregated camp for Roma, La Barbuta, was officially opened. From 5 to 13 July 2012 the semi-formal camp via del Baiardo, which had housed Serbian and Macedonian Roma for nearly 20 years, was closed, and authorities conducted a census of the residents.  Only families with children were offered emergency shelter for up to 90 days, after which Mayor Gianni Alemanno noted that they should "return to their country”.

On 5 July the City of Milan evicted two informal Romani settlements housing about 300 Romanian Roma despite the fact that accommodation in emergency shelters was available only for 85 persons. The next day, the City of Milan presented its draft "Project Roma, Sinti and Travellers for 2012-2015. Proposal of the City of Milan", which currently provides for the continued forced eviction of informal Romani camps in the absence of adequate alternative accommodation and will formalise actions targeting formal camps for Roma and Sinti which mirror those undertaken in the context of the Nomad Emergency which was declared illegal.

The NGO coalition expressed concern that the government has downsized the national equality body, which plays an important role in the fight for equality of treatment in Italy and is the National Contact Point of the Italian NSIRSC. The planned reduction of staff seriously undermines the implementation of the Strategy.

The NGO coalition is made up of: the European Roma Rights Centre, Associazione 21 Luglio, Consulta Rom e Sinti della Città di Milano (Committee for Roma and Sinti of Milan), Gruppo di Sostegno Forlanini, NAGA  and UPRE ROMA.

The letter is available in Italian and English.

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
sinan.gokcen@errc.org
+36.30.500.1324

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